I have wanted to visit Italy for a very long time. Naturally, part of Italy’s attraction is its historical richness, but for me, an even larger part is the food, the scenery, and the culture. Thanks to an ongoing scholarly workshop I’m participating in, I finally got a chance to find out whether the Italian life really is la dolce vita. What I discovered was–as I suppose it always is when you travel–different from what I expected. Continue reading
In his essay, “Why Read the Classics?,” collected in the eponymous volume, Italo Calvino argues that “… it is no use reading the classics out of a sense of duty or respect, we should only read them for love.” He adds, “It is only during unenforced reading that you will come across the book which will become ‘your’ book” (p. 6). I began reading Dante out of curiosity, but then I fell in love with an imaginative vision that dared what few authors have dared–and what no writer today would even consider. Continue reading
There is a tradition among English-language translators of Chinese poetry to translate all Chinese poems as unrhymed free-verse. This tradition goes back at least as far as Ezra Pound–whose “translations” bear little resemblance to their originals–and is very much alive and kicking. So much so that I am borrowing the historian, Nathan Sivin’s, term–“The Great Taboo,”–to describe it.
I saw a man with a beard on the subway today. You don’t often see beards like that. Continue reading
I’m pleased to announce that The Columbia Review has published my essay “Zora Neale Hurston on Being Black in America, Ninety Years Later” on their website (the title has been changed to the one you see in the title of this post). If you have a chance click over there and give them a visit. Thanks!
I originally planned to post this for Gregorian New Years, but that didn’t happen. So then I thought, given the theme of this blog, isn’t Chinese New Year even better? So to start off my Chinese New Year celebrations, here is a list of books, stories, and essays I read during the last Chinese lunar year. Continue reading
Langston Hughes is one of those poets whose work appealed to me as a young person–I think I was in ninth grade when I first read his poetry–and has only continued to grow in my estimation since then. Continue reading
Once again, I am posting far behind schedule. This post describes the last major trip my daughter and I took during her summer break in 2017. Now she’s enjoying her 2018 winter break, and we’re trying to decide where to go for the two weeks before we head to her grandparents’ in Hunan for Chinese New Year. Continue reading
[UPDATE: I’m pleased to let you know that this essay has been published on The Columbia Review‘s website.] Commencement season at Barnard College this year will mark the ninetieth anniversary of Zora Neale Hurston’s graduation with a BA in anthropology. As a graduate of Barnard’s sister institution, Columbia University, I feel the time is more than ripe to reflect on some of Hurston’s contributions. Continue reading